Book-Space! #17. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
The problem with time loops is the time. Also the loops. Join Brock, Summer, and Dan as we discuss Groundhog Days, philosophy of mind, and how many male voices can fit into a single synopsis. It’s The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton! Listen here or download here.
Next time, we’ll be reading Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer.
Posted on August 26, 2020, in Podcast and tagged Space-Biff! Book-Space!, Stuart Turton, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
This was fun to listen to. Summer’s Scots Anna was the highlight of the show, for me at least.
I’m intrigued by Brock’s observation about the nature of the prison as having a rehabiliatory function. If the broader genre of “amnesia fiction” is to be believed, /amnesia/ is intrinsically rehabiliatory: a person who wakes up in an unfamiliar body only to find out that they’re actually a bad person NEVER says “well, time to get back to work on the bad guy stuff, then”, nope, they always always always work to undo the bad guy behavior that their actual self was guilty of.
Now we can’t really experience this to test whether this is what would actually happen in the real world. Or can we? Witness the way people talk about slavery, or the holocaust. “I would never stand for that. If I had been there, I would have put a stop to that whole thing speedy quick.” No, you wouldn’t have. And that’s indirectly the point this genre of fiction (unwittingly, I think) makes: that bad people don’t behave badly out of intrinsic badness; there is context to badness. Thus when you are removed from the context in which the badness arose, it’s easy to say “that’s bad, I don’t approve of that”. (This, incidentally, is one of the many things wrong with Train). Slaveowners did not think they were bad people, and until you can recognize that in their same societal context, you would have almost certainly agreed with them, you don’t have much ability to talk about the past OR the present.
Thanks for your thoughts, Jeff, and not only because it included a perspective on Train beyond the usual dismal “this game made me do something bad!”
I’ll also say that I find your collective musings on the actual nature of the prison to be interesting. My first reading, I was mostly content to accept the premise and not worry too much about it, but actually once you start to worry about it it gets weird.
If Aiden et al are actually being sent into the past — the interpretation I initially favored– that’s weird because how do the wardens have the ability to “reset” changes to the timeline made by the prisoners at the end of each day?
Whereas, if it’s a giant simulator of some sort, how is it that the wardens have the ability to know the internal thought life of all of the participants in the drama so minutely that the prisoners can be subsumed into each of their avatars (i.e. Aiden says repeatedly that it’s not just him in each avatar’s body, that the avatar’s own thoughts and capacities and aptitudes also influence his actions), /but at the same time/ the wardens find this crime completely insoluble but for Aiden and Anna’s actions? That does not compute!